The Church and the Wars of the Roses

  • Richard G. Davies
Part of the Problems in Focus book series (PFS)


Christian life in mid-fifteenth-century England was comfortable.1 Wool-merchants and other nouveaux riches led the way in building and re-building churches across the beam of England and leaving their signatures on them; a thirsty market for works of conventional personal piety was about to give William Caxton his chance; prelates, landowners and urban oligarchs endowed schools and (Cambridge) colleges in a steadily increasing flow; the even tenor of monastic life was punctuated here and there by some lively rioting from the local peasants and flare-ups of domestic disharmony, but nothing serious and nothing new. In an increasing number of towns craft-guilds were getting together to organise joint mystery plays. Rural parishes organised ales, Robin Hood plays and teenage Hoke-days as fund-raisers and splashed lively, sometimes ghoulish, wall-paintings along the naves of their churches. Tithes were generally paid without much fuss, and the parish clergy were usually regarded as good neighbours by their flocks. The church courts concerned themselves with the moral failings and marital problems of the layfolk only as and when obliged to by outrage amongst those immediately involved, their kin or their neighbours. The bishops in the mid-fifteenth century were as pastoral and unpolitical a collection as might ever have been mustered in medieval England, albeit as avaricious as usual.


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Notes and References

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    See Bibliography for important contextual works and guides to recent writings. I have minimised references to manuscript sources in this chapter, but wish to thank the Borthwick Institute, York, for access to its manuscripts and microfilms.Google Scholar
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© Richard G. Davies 1995

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